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Ocean explorers to launch deep-water expedition in Palau

Three Palauan educators selected to join Nautilus exploration teams

Elchung "El" Hideyos, Adeeshia Imade Tellei and Shilwitt Blodak Quichocho

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Koror —  The Ocean Exploration Trust will embark on another deep-ocean expedition this fall to explore Palau's waters, with three Palauan educators joining two teams aboard the vessel Nautilus.

Selected to join the exploration teams are Elchung "El" Hideyos from Palau Community College, Adeeshia Imade Tellei from the Palau International Coral Reef Center, and Shilwitt Blodak Quichocho from John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Kayangel.

Deep water regions surrounding Palau host rich and diverse marine resources, including over 225 underwater mountain seamounts and extremely deep ecosystems in the Palau Trench.

Yet, only less than 20 percent of Palau’s exclusive economic zone has been mapped to high resolution and is largely within shallower waters, according to OET.

OET, Palau International Coral Reef Center, NOAA Ocean Exploration and other Palauan and U.S. collaborators will conduct two expeditions aboard E/V Nautilus in October and November to explore deep-sea habitats within the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, also known as "Euotelel a Klingil a Debel Belau."

"All data gathered will be provided to the Palauan government and PICRC to support and enable follow-on exploration and management activities to better understand and care for the ocean," OET said.

Expeditions will provide publicly accessible data about deep water areas of the sanctuary and be streamed live, connecting learners with local scientists, educators, and students. 

These educators were selected from a worldwide pool of applicants and will join a cohort of 13 storyteller Fellows from across the Pacific and North America.

In October, Tellei and Hideyos will join the first Palau expedition, spending approximately two weeks exploring local waters. In November, Quichocho will join the second expedition alongside educators from American Samoa and the United States.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to participate as a Science Communication Fellow and explore the Palau National Marine Sanctuary,” Tellei said. “At PICRC, I work in the outreach department to bring and raise awareness on the different marine ecosystems and habitats in Palau, one of them being the Sanctuary. I can’t wait to learn alongside colleagues and experts to explore this vast ocean space and share my experiences.” 

While at sea, these educators will have the opportunity to connect live with learners across Palau.  Everyone can engage with these educators via, a 24-hour live-streaming web portal bringing expeditions from the field to explorers on shore via telepresence technology and social media.


The fellows will participate in live audio commentary and question-and-answer sessions through the Nautilus Live website while aboard the ship; they will also engage in events and activities upon their return. Schools and community groups can also schedule free, live one-on-one Q&A sessions with explorers on the ship beginning in May. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to venture into the unknown wonders of our waters and gain a deeper understanding of its topography. Like many cultures around the world, our legends point to a flood that happened in the ancient past, and it excites me to be a part of the OET and its mission to explore the unexplored,” Quichocho said.

“I’m excited to explore Palau’s deep oceans and share the knowledge with my Palauan youths and community! I’m looking forward to working with fellow science communicators and increasing awareness of the deep oceans,” Hideyos said.

Ocean Exploration Trust, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, operates with a mission to explore the unknown parts of the ocean, seeking out new discoveries in geology, biology and hydrography while pushing the boundaries of STEAM education and technological innovation.

This year, OET has nine expeditions in Hawaiʻi, American Samoa, U.S. Pacific Remote Islands, Palau and Canada.

Any new discoveries "will contribute to the ocean being better understood by supporting international scientific and U.S. governmental priorities, particularly understanding ocean changes, sharing that knowledge with others, and contributing discoveries and data that will inform future conservation and management decisions," OET said.

“Science Communication Fellows work alongside scientists and engineers and help convey the excitement of the ocean exploration experience across the NautilusLive live stream, our social media, and our outreach directly with classrooms. We are proud to elevate these three Palauan role models and elevate their voices as storytellers to connect their communities with the deep ocean,” said Megan Cook, OET’s director of Education and Outreach.

“One of the major goals of our Nautilus Exploration Program is to motivate the next generation of explorers in STEAM fields,” said Allison Fundis, OET’s chief operating officer. “We are very excited to provide educators and students with direct experience in ocean exploration while allowing them the opportunity to share that experience with their peers around the world.”  


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